Agile strategy and outcome-based delivery shapes NHS Clinical Trials Programme


The challenge 

NHS DigiTrials partnered with Burendo to define a business strategy and outcome-based delivery plan to rapidly scale its ability to conduct clinical trials.

The NHS Digitrials programme required a scalable strategy and solution to replace a process that had become manual and cumbersome with a need to minimise the risk of potential breaches and fulfil the increasing influx of clinical trial requests.

Our approach

A lightweight five-day discovery to review the current system and its limitations was a huge part of the assessment to ensure alignment with the NHS data strategy.

Understanding the business needs, drivers and challenges was vital to deliver a credible and reliable technical solution.

Using a series of Agile tools and techniques such as User Research, Goal Planning and Outcome-based Roadmaps, we were able to quickly take ideas, estimate and prioritise them in order to secure annual funding.

  • Carried out user research with key stakeholders including Service Users, NHS Board, Regulators and the Patients and Public.
  • Use of VMOST (Vision, mission, objectives, strategy, tactics) canvas to align ideas for the programme.
  • Used techniques such as WSJF (weighted shortest job first) to prioritise roadmap deliverables.
  • Produced a near, far, further plan to demonstrate key outcomes, deliverables and ROI over a 6,12 and 18-month period.
  • Kept stakeholders informed on a daily basis with effective communication on progress issues and blockers.
  • Produced Pseudonymised Automated Data Extracts for security to comply with a data-sharing agreement.
  • Build of safe and secure data pipelines ensuring links between all NHS data sets from GP surgeries all the way through to NHS Hospitals. 
  • Implementation of a scheduler allowing for data extracts to occur during off-peak hours, minimising impact on system performance and user experience.

The results

We supported NHS England with the ability to deliver every two weeks by adopting Iterative Architecture, continuously demonstrating enhancements and improvements to customers.

  • Trial requests increased from 1 per month to 5 per month enabling the NHS DigiTrials programme to have greater confidence to scale and minimise the risk of potential breaches.
  • Cycle time taken from request to delivery was improved through the use of automation and reduced manual effort from 30 days to 1 day for a typical data extract.
  • Reduction in costs of decommissioning, updating and maintaining legacy systems saving £2 million per annum.

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